Monday, February 24, 2020

Not Guilty & The Great Timelock Disaster by C. Lee McKenzie

Talented author C Lee McKenzie is here today to share some of her secrets.
And share her two recent releases

1.   What was your hardest scene to write?
I actually think it was the first scene in The Great Time Lock Disaster. I’m a novice at writing sequels, and I was scared about not setting up the story so it would follow the tone and capture the characters from the first book, Alligators Overhead. I must have written that opening scene ten times before I was satisfied.

2.   What makes you run screaming?
Bears do the trick, but since I’ve only encountered one of those and it was on the other side of a creek, I might have to go with something else— launching a book, for example. I’ve had a few moments of terror in my life—landing in a plane on the tail-end of a typhoon, falling into a Class V rapid from a raft, raising a teenager—but launching a book is at the top when it comes to inducing fear.

3.   You’re about to be dropped in a remote spot for a three-week survival test. Where would you go? What three tools would you take?

For a truly dangerous challenge, I’d choose Australia’s Outback. After reading Bill Bryson’s book, I know that continent has some of the most poisonous critters on the planet and all kinds of natural disasters to survive. I guess I’d take a hefty supply of water, sturdy hiking boots, and a native guide. I see no reason to try this on my own. I’m not ready to die.

4.   What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most?
I once lived in a war zone. That experience taught me a lot about why war is not only futile, but a true “comedy” of errors. Whoever, decides to go to battle, should go himself and not send others out to do the job.

5. If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?
This answer would change with each trip I take. However, the south of France is high on my list of places to be while writing. Of course, every place I go is full of distractions: castles, vast deserts, pyramids, beaches. I’d do better to stay home that year to write and not be tempted by those unexplored treasures.

6.If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Enjoy every moment and learn from the best. Read everything, and find out what those authors do that engage you.

7.What does literary success look like to you?
If you’d asked me this question when I first started writing to publish, I would have said, being a published author. Later, I would have said getting good reviews. Today, I’d say, writing good books that people will enjoy reading for many years. 

8.Tell us about the book you’re working on now.
It’s not a middle grade and it’s not a young adult book. I’m a bit worried because it falls between the marketing cracks, and the closest label I have is New Adult. It’s a contemporary/realistic story that deals with a young skier who becomes a paraplegic due to a calculated “accident”. There’s a mystery, but there’s also what I hope will be a life-affirming story about overcoming the biggest challenges life can hurl at us.

At heart I’m a Californian, maybe even a Valley Girl who grew up and found out Dorothy was right. “There’s no place like home.”
I have a Master of Arts, in Linguistics.
My Passions: 
Besides reading and writing, I love to do two things: I love to hike. I love to practice Yoga. Well, three things if you count eating. I love to eat. That’s why I love to hike. Might as well make it four things, because I love to spend time with my family and friends. Wait! I love to grow my own salad. And cats—I love to grow them too, so now I’m up to six things I’m passionate about. I know there’s more, but I’m out of space and you don’t need to be bored.
My Favorite Books:
Anything with Hobbits. Anything Stephen King writes, except I don’t like some of those stories at night when I’m alone or even if I’m not because I’m a real sissy in the dark. Anything with a dragon in the title or on the cover. Barbara Kingsolver’s books. Edgy Joyce Carol Oates books. E.B.White’s Essays, and stories that start, “Once upon a time . . . .”

The Great Time Lock Disaster (The Adventures of Pete and Weasel Book 2) by C Lee McKenzie

No YouTube. No smoothies. No Manga. Not ever again. Unless Pete figures out how to reverse his bad spell and free Weasel and him from the past. A young wizard accidentally opens a time lock and he and his bookish friend are swept into Victorian England, where they will be trapped forever if that wizard-in-training can’t find a way to reverse his bad spell by the next full moon--just three days away!

Read My Review HERE:        

Not Guilty by C Lee McKenzie

"NOT GUILTY is a compelling, engrossing, and ultimately uplifting and rewarding read. I couldn't tear myself away!"—Cheryl Rainfield, author of Scars, Stained, Hunted and Parallel Visions.
A blood-smeared knife. One young man’s word against another. A lifetime dream crushed. The evidence points to Devon Carlyle. He was there when it happened. Everyone knows he had it in for Renzo Costa. And Costa says Devon was the one. In the judge’s rap of a gavel, Devon’s found guilty of assault.
The star of the Oceanside High’s basketball team loses his shot at the one thing he’s worked so hard for—the championship game where college scouts could see how good he is. Now he makes his great shots in Juvenile Hall with kids far different from those that have always been in his life.
 Hell, yes.
He’s bent on finding who did the crime. He’s bent on making them pay because he’s Not Guilty.
But can he prove it?
     Read My Review HERE:


Thank you, Lee. 
You are one talented woman and I think many of us will agree
WAR should be fought only by those determined to solve their problems by it!

Best wishes on your New Adult novel!

Well folks, do you have a question for Lee?

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

WEP - Café Terrace Shantytown

Café Terrace Shantytown

          “You remember, don’t you? That week in Paris?” James asked as he put a cup of hot cocoa to his wife’s lips. “Take a sip, it’ll warm your insides. Just like that hot toddy that evening in Paris.”

          Jeana smiled. “That’s so good, did you slip some brandy in it?” She winked then sighed. “How could I forget about our honeymoon? We were so young, so in love. Foolish really, but despite our missteps in life, I’ll never regret one day, not a one!”

          “You’d wanted to have a drink at an outdoor terrace, just like in the Van Gogh painting, The Café Terrace. Then you just had to have the print. It cost almost as much as one night at the hotel,” James said as he held his wife close in their handmade haven, a cardboard box. 

          It was the deluxe model. Its former occupant had been the latest in cold food storage. The Viking Professional 5 Series 48-Inch 29.05 Cu. Ft. Built-In Side-By-Side Stainless Steel Refrigerator/Freezer. 

          The Stewarts have always had the best. He’d worked in retail all his life, and she’d taken time off to care for their young but put her time in as a clerk in an accounting office.

          But now that fancy house was gone. Their twenty-year-old car had finally given out, and while social security came in monthly, it had been whittled down to a little more than an allowance that allowed the Stewarts a few morsels of food and kept Jeana supplied with medication. Universal health care, the promised solution never happened, and Medicare had gone bankrupt years earlier. Every hospitalization whittled away at their savings then took their house and belongings. All they had left were each other, a few blankets and cherished mementos, and the cardboard box they now called home.

          Under the bridge near a slow-moving river, they shared the area with twenty other individuals. Each family had a cardboard box covered with a plastic tarp. A makeshift outhouse had been created for everyone’s use, and for the most part, neighbor supported neighbor.

          Jeana scoffed. “Ever the penny pincher, but that print has graced each of our homes, even this one.” Her eyes wandered to the print of the Café Terrace, salvaged from their house before foreclosure. “I can still hear the bells, see the Eiffel Tower, and taste the eclairs and wine.” Jeana giggled. “I think it’s the first time I ever got drunk.”

          “All it took was one glass.” James laughed.

          “That never changed, but I’ve always felt safe with you.” She blinked away tears. “The fun we had James, such wonderful memories.” Jeana looked into the tired eyes of her spouse. “We had a good life, didn’t we?”

          “The best Jeana, the absolute best.” James kissed the top of her head and resituated the blanket around her frail body.

          “How cold is it going to get tonight?” she asked.

          “They’re saying well below freezing. We need to move outside with the others at sunset, near the fire. If we stay here, we’ll die in our sleep.”

          “Not the worst way to go. Don’t you just fall asleep?” she said, her voice barely a whisper.

          “What are you thinking?”

          “Just that I’m tired. So very, very tired.”

          James sighed. “I know, sweetheart. I know. You rest, I’ll keep you warm. In my arms, you’ll always find warmth.”


         After the ground thawed, a hole was dug. James and Jeana Stewart, still in their cardboard haven, were buried on the outskirts of the cardboard shantytown.

587 words / FCA
Yolanda Renée © 2020

Read more WEP entries HERE!

Friday, February 14, 2020

You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas

Welcome author Damyanti Biswas!

Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and supports Delhi's underprivileged women and children, volunteering with organizations who work for this cause. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. She was recently awarded The Fay Khoo Award in Penang, Malaysia. You can find her on her blog and twitter. 

Her debut crime novel You Beneath Your Skin is an Amazon bestseller, all author proceeds of which will support the education and empowerment of women at Project WHY and Stop Acid Attacks.

Despite her busy schedule she agreed 

to share a little about herself and her writing:
1          1 .    What was your hardest scene to write?
     Without giving the story of You Beneath Your Skin, it was the scene of confrontation between Anjali and Jatin. There were so many loops to close, physical and emotional, and I needed to do that in an organic, completely spontaneous fashion. I rewrote that scene so many times I’ve lost count.
            2.    What makes you run screaming?
I’m not sure—haven’t run screaming yet. But I imagine it would be dark places and things that go bump in the night. Or simply a toddler I’m babysitting having a tantrum. You never know.     
            3.    You’re about to be dropped in a remote spot for a three-week survival test. Where would you go? What three tools would you take?
I don’t think I’d survive very long. I’d probably take a knife, a rope and something to make fire with. As to what I’d achieve with those—anyone’s guess. They just sound like practical things to carry with you in a remote area.
             4.    What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most?
I do not give out too many behind-the-scenes tidbits—but the one thing about my recent writing-life shenanigans that has surprised me recently is my newly-discovered love of butter. For no known reason I’ve found myself scraping butter off the slab we have at home—puts me in a ‘writing mood’ immediately. I am dreading the consequences to my waistline.
             5.    If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?
      It could be Italy. Or Scotland. Or Japan. Of all the places I’ve been fortunate enough to visit, these countries top the list. I’d love to know more about them, and what better way to know about them than to live a year and write a book?
          6.    If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
To not be so hard on me. It took me years to learn kindness to self. That’s the most underrated quality in any writer.
7.    What does literary success look like to you
That I would one day look at something I wrote ten years ago, and go, wow, I wrote that? That’s fabulous!
8.    Tell us about the book you’re working on now.
It is set in Mumbai, amid the backdrop of closing and reopening of dance bars—one of the bar girls is payed huge sums to dress up and pose at a railway station and exit the place within three minutes. She soon discovers that others with the same assignment have gone missing.
Read my Review of You Beneath Your Skin   HERE!

You Beneath Your Skin 

Blurb: Lies. Ambition. Family. 

 It’s a dark, smog-choked New  Delhi winter. Indian American single mother Anjali Morgan juggles her job as a psychiatrist with caring for her autistic teenage son. She is in a long-standing affair with ambitious Police Commissioner Jatin Bhatt  – an irresistible attraction that could destroy both their lives. 

Jatin’s home life is falling apart: his handsome and charming son is not all he appears to be, and his wife has too much on her plate to pay attention to either husband or son. But Jatin refuses to listen to anyone, not even the sister to whom he is deeply attached. 

Across the city, there is a crime spree: slum women found stuffed in trash bags,  faces and bodies disfigured by acid. And as events spiral out of control Anjali is horrifyingly at the center of it all.

In a sordid world of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption, Jatin must make some hard choices. But what he unearths is only the tip of the iceberg. Together with Anjali he must confront old wounds and uncover long-held secrets before it is too late.


The price will be 

.99 USD from Feb. 12-14th 

and gradually rise to original price of 2.99 


the 18th.

About the novel: YOU BENEATH YOUR SKIN, 
publisher: Simon & Schuster IN

You Beneath Your Skin is an Amazon-bestselling crime novel about the investigation of an acid attack on a woman from Delhi’s upper class, set against the backdrop of crimes against underprivileged women. They are assaulted, disfigured with acid, and murdered.

It is a  whodunit, but also a whydunit because violent crime unravels those affected: the people, the relationships, the very fabric of society, and we get a glimpse of what lies beneath. That’s why the title, You Beneath Your Skin.

On Amazon USA:

On Amazon India:


Beneath the veneer of a crime novel, ‘You Beneath Your Skin’ is a study of problematic relationships

Delving Into Dark Themes Of You Beneath Your Skin, One Wonders What One Would Find

Social media info:

Pls tag me at @damyantig on Twitter and Insta, and on @damyantiwrites on FB

To tag Simon & Schuster
@SimonandSchusterIN : Insta
@SimonSchusterIN : Twitter
@Simon & Schuster IN: Facebook
@projectwhydelhi and @stopacidattacks on Twitter, Instagram, and FB

The hashtag for all social media: #YouBeneathYourSkin


Bookclubs, because of the discussion questions: Within the framework of a thriller the novel tackles various social issues: crimes against women and why they occur, the nexus between political corruption, police and big money; the abuse of the underprivileged, be it adults or children, and the scourge of acid attacks.

Parents, because of the issues tackled: How do you bring up a good human being in today’s troubled times? If you’re the parent of a special child, what challenges do you face and what sort of support can you expect?

Have you read You Beneath Your Skin? 
Have you posted your review? 
Do you have a question for Damyanti?

Damyanti Biswas!

Monday, February 10, 2020

Smiling Out Loud by Robert Jacobs

My guest today is Robert Jacobs
Author of Smiling Out Loud
A book of poetry –
Take a poetic journey, from darkness to light. 
There is occasional terror, 
appeals to the heart, and laughs to delight.
You can read my review here.

1.   The hardest scene to write –

Big Hurt, Big Heart is a poem about a schizophrenic and his loneliness.  My brother, 11/2 years younger is schizophrenic.  I tried to capture some of his feelings, his inherent loneliness.  It started as something different.  I feel I can still edit it and rewrite it.  I did not quite get what I was looking for.  Just writing about it now makes me realize how much I missed.  I will probably try again.

2.   What makes you run screaming?

Poetry that only expresses feelings but doesn’t describe the person being written about. Tell me about the person you love (or hate).  We all have feelings.  We all don’t have Rene, or Eileen, or Dennis.

3.   Dropped in a remote spot, survival test, 3 tools.

Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York. 3 tools, my cell phone iPhone 11 Max Pro, a cigarette lighter, a Swiss Army knife.  The idea of a truly remote spot doesn’t appeal to me.

4.   Behind the scenes tidbit. 

In spite of being a good student, I quit going to high school when I was 15 years old. Later went back and finished and went on to college.  I’ve never written about that but I can see doing something in the future.

5.   Living anywhere and writing a book about it.

I’d like to spend the time between London and Paris.

6.   What would I tell my younger self?

Write every week.  Set goals. Get into the habit of writing. Read poetry. Be disciplined in developing a plan to develop writing skills.

7.   What does literary success look like to you?

Having people ask me when my next book will be out and what is it about.  Basically, having a following. It can be relatively small but it needs to be present. Also, having someone, a publisher, perhaps, assist with marketing.

8.   The book I’m working on.

I have enough unpublished poems for a second book. The problem is I want it to be better than the first book. I am a better writer today so I probably would need to rewrite many of them. I am also thinking of a book of short stories. I have started several, finished maybe two. My problem is I have the opposite of writer's block. I have no shortage of ideas. My life is my canvas.

What is "Smiling Out Loud" about?

It is not about depression or pining over a lost love.

It is not about grieving although it is about recovering from loss.
It is not an outpouring of emotional cliches.
It is a celebration of good lives, lives intertwined in love.
It is about finding humor in all aspects of life.
It is about growing up in Brooklyn.
It is about loving a time, a place, a family.
It is about loving the people in your lives.
It is about memories and a fertile imagination.
It is about Smiling Out Loud and laughing out loud.
It is universal because it describes what everyone yearns for.

Robert Jacobs was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. That wonderful experience shaped his personality, helped to form his views, and gave him his sense of humor (or lack thereof). He writes poetry, short stories, started a few novels, written essays and has the opposite of writers’ block. He is an optimist, in spite of some of the dark poetry, and he has been loved his entire life. Some people may think that is a disadvantage for a writer. He thinks it is a wonderful advantage.
         Talk to me so sweetly
         Though I am hard of hearing
         Shouting is okay
                                           That would be endearing
                                            I love to hear your voice
                                            You are my ace of spades
                                            Think how much fun we’ll have
                                            When I find my hearing aids

You can find Robert here:

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